LONDON Two boys aged 10 and 11 were found guilty on Monday of the attempted rape of an eight-year-old girl near her home in west London.
The boys, who were both 10 at the time and are believed to be among the youngest children to stand trial for rape, were both cleared of two further charges of raping the girl last October.
During a two-week trial at the Old Bailey, the boys sat with their mothers in the well of the court and their lawyers did not wear wigs or gowns.
"It was an extremely difficult case," the judge Mr Justice Saunders told the jury, who convicted the boys by a 10-2 majority. "No doubt it was traumatic for you to some extent as well to hear this case."
Prosecutor Rosina Cottage said the boys approached the girl when she was playing with a friend near her house. The girl was assaulted in a block of flats, a bin shed and a field.
"Together they took her to different locations near where they lived in order to find a sufficiently secluded spot to assault her," Cottage said, according to the Press Association.
In police videos shown to the jury, the girl clutched a teddy bear as she told officers how the boys assaulted her. She said they had taken her scooter, thrown it into a bush and refused to get it back unless she did what they said.
The judge refused the defence's plea to throw the case out after the girl admitted she had not been truthful with all her evidence. He said it was up to the jury to decide if the witness could be trusted.
Lawyers for the boys said there was no evidence the girl had been raped and that her evidence had been inconsistent.
"What this case is about is not a serious crime. It is about children," said defence lawyer Linda Strudwick, representing the older boy. "There is a game called 'You show me yours and I'll show you mine'.
"Maybe it went too far, maybe it went to touching, maybe they were doing something they had seen on television, maybe they were playing that age-old game, doctors and nurses."
Chetna Patel, for the younger boy, said the prosecution evidence had focussed on "bad behaviour, being naughty, messing around" rather than rape.
The boys, who cannot be named because of their age, will be sentenced in two months after reports are prepared.
(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Steve Addison)